Mokua Gichuru v. Vancouver Swing Society, Matthew Lam, Kaitlin Russell, Angelena Weddell, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Administrative law - Boards and tribunals, Human rights, Jurisdiction - Administrative law — Boards and Tribunals — BC Human Rights Tribunal — Jurisdiction — Human Rights — Discriminatory practices — Procedural fairness — Did the lower courts err in concluding that the Tribunal has jurisdiction to screen complaints and that its decisions were not patently unreasonable — Does this Court's jurisprudence and provincial human rights legislation allow human rights tribunals to prevent persons from filing complaints that are potentially meritorious — Does this Court's jurisprudence permit employers and organizations to unilaterally categorize individuals as having “power” over others solely on the basis of prohibited grounds (such as age, race, sex, and religion) and subsequently treat those individuals in a different and adverse manner — What are the minimum requirements of procedural fairness in proceedings before an administrative tribunal —Under what circumstances may a judge decide a case on a basis that was not pleaded or argued before him or her.



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While volunteering at the Vancouver Swing Society (“VSS”), the applicant complained that he was being harassed and bullied by a female member. Looking into the matter, the VSS determined that the applicant’s conduct with younger female members was problematic. It ultimately banned him from volunteering or attending events. The applicant brought a complaint to the respondent Tribunal, alleging discrimination on the basis of age, sex and race. He complained that one of the VSS directors informed him that age and gender were factors that the society took into account in responding to harassment complaints and had sent him a link to an article stereotyping the behavior of older men. The Tribunal advised the applicant that his complaint would be rejected for filing unless he provided more detail on how age, sex and race factored into the VSS decision to ban him. Finding the applicant’s additional information to be insufficient, the Tribunal refused to accept his complaint for filing.

The applicant filed a petition for judicial review. A judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia adjourned the hearing, recommending that the applicant seek a reconsideration of the screening decision. The Tribunal denied the application for reconsideration on the basis that the new evidence did not support the allegations of discrimination or justify a reversal of the Screening decision. On the matter’s return to the court for judicial review, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ultimately dismissed the petition and the Court of Appeal for British Columbia dismissed the appeal.